The Oldest Artwork in Human History

Chauvet-Cave-artwork

Near the Ardeche River (pronounced “arr-desh”) in southern France, less than 0.5 kilometers away, 3 explorers set out a few days before Christmas in 1994. While seeking drafts of air emanating from the ground which would point to the presence of caves, these explorers found a subtle airflow which was blockaded by rocks. The explorers found a narrow shaft which was cut into the cliffside, so narrow in fact that their bodies could just barely squeeze through it. Deep inside the cave the explorers stumbled upon the oldest known cave paintings in human history, twice as old as any other artistic depiction made by human hands. The cave itself had been perfectly sealed for tens of thousands of years which is why this 32,000 year old artwork was found in pristine condition. In honor of the lead discover Jean-Marie Chauvet (pronounced “zhan mah-ree sho-vee”), the cave was named “Chauvet Cave”. The French Ministry of Culture controls all access to the cave, an intervention which was rapidly implemented as this discovery was immediately understood as an enormous scientific find, perhaps one of the greatest anthropological and artistic discoveries ever made. Scientists and art historians are typically the only members of the public permitted access to Chauvet Cave, with archeologists, paleontologists, and geologists being the most common interdisciplinary teams provided entry

Captain James Morgan and the Rum Named After Him

Captain-James-MorganThe tiny island of Île à Vache, Haiti (pronounced “eel ah vash”) was the location Captain Henry Morgan decided to setup a base of operations to harass the French and Spanish who controlled the mainland. The British, French, and Spanish fought furiously 300 years ago for the spoils which came along with the conquer and colonization of the New World. Captain Morgan lives on in modern culture as the Captain Morgan rum manufacturer takes its image and name from this famous British privateer

The Hijacking of Matt Furie’s Pepe the Frog Character by the Fringe Political Movement of the Alt Right

Matt-Furie-Pepe-the-FrogThe Pepe the Frog character and meme rose to ascension during the presidency of Donald Trump because of the 4Chan.org website which was created by Christopher Poole. Poole’s system leveraged Darwinian survival as the base for his new forum system in which posts with a lot of traction would float to the top, allowing even more people to become exposed to them, and posts which had little traction sinking to the bottom where they would inevitably die out. This method of selection and rejection is immensely conducive to creating memes as users, overwhelmingly adolescent males, would compete upon 4Chan to create the most bizarre and outrageous memes and replies possible. 4Chan exacerbates this behavior by allowing users to remain anonymous and therefore able to express opinions and/or ask questions or provide answers to material which they normally would not engage in conversation in, during their day to day life, for fear of retribution for deviating outside of typical social convention. Pepe the Frog became a meme circulated almost exclusively upon 4Chan as the other major social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.) did not observe spikes in content related to this meme due to the user base that uses these platforms being unaware of it as 4Chan is a relatively obscure online forum. Pepe the Frog eventually became adopted by those within society who did not feel marginalized, people who visited 4Chan in search of Pepe the Frog memes, rather than for communication with 4Chan members, which ascended Pepe the Frog into popular culture. Those who initially propelled Pepe the Frog into the counter culture of 4Chan felt overlooked and as a direct result, this marginalized group started to produce increasingly offensive content related to Pepe the Frog, with the hope that it would deter others from using the meme which was believed to be exclusively reserved as a 4Chan character, despite having been stolen from the original artist Matt Furie, who created the character in 2005 for his comic book publication Boys Club, a storyline about 4 friends, including Pepe the Frog, who spent time together. Pepe the Frog was depicted upon 4Chan as a member of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, crashing into the World Trade Towers, with tattoos of German Nazi and white supremacist symbols etc. (e.g. swastika, Celtic cross, 14/88 which refers to Adolf Hitler etc.). These derivative depictions and memes began to become widely circulated upon 4Chan and other websites found online, as Pepe the Frog displays both innocence in his depiction but also malevolence while engaging in horrific acts (e.g. abhorrently forcing a gas mask onto an unfair, stereotypical characterization of a Jewish person). It is Pepe the Frog’s smile while performing these actions which allowed his popularity grow online as virtually any despicable act could be depicted as a joke because of the juxtaposition between Pepe the Frog and the victim being attacked. This emboldened those making these offensive memes as the work started to become viewed as hyperbole and comical, which acted as a defense for creating new content as those engaged believed that their work could always be interpreted and defended as satire, therefore free of scrutiny from authorities or those who reject the Alt Right ideology (e.g. law enforcement investigating a hate crime etc.)

The Ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt

Lighthouse-of-AlexandriaThe Lighthouse of Alexandria was one of the original 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. Standing more than 350’ tall, the Lighthouse of Alexandria and was clearly observable to passing ships sailing up to 50 kilometers away. Originally built in 280 B.C., after guiding ships into the port and city of Alexandria for 15 centuries, the Lighthouse of Alexandria collapsed in 1323 due to a series of earthquakes which leveled the structure and caused it to tumble into the Mediterranean Sea. The Citadel of Qaitbay (pronounced “kate-bay”), a 500 year old fortress, now sits at the site of the once standing lighthouse with many of the stones within this structure, pieces of the original Lighthouse of Alexandria, installed after being dredged up from the ocean floor. Although the Lighthouse of Alexandria was originally designed to safely bring ships into the port of Alexandria, the Citadel of Qaitbay acted in opposition as a repellent centuries later, designed to keep enemies (e.g. Ottoman Turks) out of Egypt. No ship was permitted the privilege of docking in the Alexandria harbor without forfeiting all books on board for a short period of time until they could be translated and/or copied outright by scribes

Ancient Roman Emperor Julius Caesar’s Contribution to Time Keeping

Julius-CaesarThe month of July is a derivation of the name, “Julius Caesar”. The ancient Romans opted to rename “Quintilis”, the original name for July which means “fifth month” in Latin, to “July” after Caesars death because this was the same month that he was born. The Julian calendar, a western calendar used until 1582 when the Gregorian calendar supplanted it, is also attributed to Caesar as the Roman year had only 355 days and required an extra month be added, every 3 years. The ancient Romans repeatedly made the same calculation errors and continually found seasons out of synchronization with the actual calendar date observed. With the help of a few Roman scientists, Caesar removed the pre-Etruscan 10 month solar calendar in favor of the 365 day year calendar named after himself. The Roman calendar started on March 25, but was moved to January 1 with the advent of the Gregorian calendar

The Discovery of the Sunken S.S. Titanic

sunken-TitanicThe S.S. Titanic’s shipwreck site was found by the U.S. Navy whilst embarking upon a clandestine military submarine sea voyage operation in 1982. The intent of the mission was to surpass the Russians on every front, including land, sea, air, and space. Geologist and Navy Captain Robert Ballard was the person who developed the mission idea by suggesting that the U.S. Navy scour the seafloor to gather intelligence and search for evidence of Soviet placed hardware. The original intention of the mission was to locate and recover 2 U.S. Navy submarines which were classified as top secret nuclear attack vessels and lost during the 1960’s. The first submarine was the U.S.S. Scorpion, lost in 1968 with 99 onboard, and the second was the U.S.S. Thresher, lost in 1963 with 129 onboard. Recovery of these vessels during the 1960’s was limited to the Sound Navigation and Ranging technology of the era, commonly abbreviated as “SONAR”. Ballard only had 12 days to locate the S.S. Titanic during the mission without exposing his cover story, a feat which was unable to be completed by the French and the Americans, despite having much longer time spans and multiple expeditions to achieve this goal. Ballard narrowed down the search area to 80 square kilometers and focused towards the south as he believed that ocean currents would have carried sunken debris in that direction. Ballard continued searching for a trail of scattered debris from the S.S. Titanic and on the 9th day of the expedition, with time quickly running out, the operators of the remotely operated vehicle ARGO, found wreckage from a modern iron ship which appeared to be from the early 20th century. It was confirmed shortly after on September 1, 1985 at 12:48 AM that these remains were 1 of the 29 boilers belonging to the S.S. Titanic. It had been 73 years since the S.S. Titanic was last seen, resting nearly 4 kilometers below sea level, with it’s 1500 onboard passengers and crew

The First Musician to Routinely Break Their Instrument on Stage

Franz-Liszt19th century Hungarian composer Franz Liszt created the modern concept of the single musician concert as prior to this, a single musician (e.g. pianist, violinist, flautist etc.) had never played an entire concert by themselves. Liszt often broke his pianos on stage due to his vigorous style of play, making him the first musician to routinely destroy their own instrument while performing, a full century prior to the rock artists of the 1960’s onward

The Indigenous People of Tanna Island, Vanuatu and Their Religious Cult Honoring and Deifying the U.S. Military

Tanna-Island Vanuatu-Religious-CultOn Tanna Island, Vanuatu, every year on February 15th, residents of the Pacific Ocean island chain engage in a military parade with the term “USA” painted in red or tattooed upon the chest of men who carry large bamboo spears with red tipped, pointed ends, a tradition which began more than 60 years ago, inspired by events which took place during World War II, when the U.S. military descended upon the island with modern machinery and supplies (e.g. canned food and cotton clothing etc.). The native inhabitants were in awe of these technologies which lead them to believe that the Americans were in possession of magic. Science fiction author Arthur Charles Clarke’s Third Law states that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. When World War II ended, the U.S. closed its bases in Vanuatu and left seemingly overnight, taking their technologies and goods with them. In honor of U.S. soldiers in the hope that it would entice them to return, the indigenous people created a cult which honored those who had appeared from beyond the horizon. These inhabitants started to create replica U.S. military items (e.g. wooden bandolier designed to mimic artillery shell bandoliers, straw aircraft, U.S. military insignia shoulder patches denoting rank which are painted onto skin etc.). Virtually all religions begin with a miraculous event (e.g. comet in the sky fortelling of calamity) followed by the creation of monuments which exemplify the event observed (e.g. large statue of the Buddha as a deity). Religions developed by cultures which worship other beings which have descended upon them are often referred to as a “cargo cult”

Galileo Galilei’s Telescope Design Improvement upon the Dutch Spyglass Design

Galileo-Galilei-telescopeIt had been known since the first spectacles were produced in the middle of the 13th century, that glass was capable of bending light, a property which no other known material of the period could achieve. The Dutch spyglass worked upon this very principal, arranging lenses with careful attention to detail to create a compounding magnification effect. If light hits a plano-convex (pronounced “play-noh”) lens, which is flat upon one side and convex upon the other, the same formation used for those who suffer from hyperopia, rays of light streaming inward are bent toward eachother, eventually meeting and converging at a specific triangular point. Right before this focal point, Galilei improved the original Dutch design by placing his second lens, an ocular lens which is plano-concave, meaning flat upon one side and concave upon the other, the same formation used for those who suffer from myopia. This secondary lens pushes the bent rays of converging light back out again so that they can hit the eye and provide a clear image. The eye focuses this light upon the retina so that the observer can view the image produced by the spyglass. The magnification power of a telescope depends upon the ratio between the focal lengths of the lenses, with these distances marked as F1 for the distance between the front of the spyglass and the plano-concave lens, and F2 from the plano-concave lens toward the back of the spyglass. The largest difficulty impeding Galilei was the grinding down process of his convex lens, in an attempt to make it as shallow as possible to maximize the length of the F1 partition, as the longer the distance is, the greater the magnification will be. Within a few weeks of developing this new technology, Galilei’s first telescope had a clear magnification of 8x, far exceeding the power of the original Dutch spyglass. On August 21, 1609, Galilei climbed a Venice bell tower to meet up with Venetian nobles and senators so that he could display his new technology. This new bleeding edge feat of engineering permitted Venetians to spot sailing ships 2 hours earlier than if they had used the naked eye. 3 days after the event, Galilei gifted his telescope to the Duke of Venice and was afforded a guaranteed job for life in exchange, with this salary equating to double his original income. With his finances secured, Galilei went on to develop and produce even more powerful telescopes